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The Importance of Love in the Hellscape

The Year Butt | 2021

by Candi Bartlett | December 31, 2021

I say “I love” stuff a lot. About so many things. There was a time when I would put myself down internally for expressing myself that way. You love the blue BIC Cristal pen? You LOVE it? Isn’t that a bit much? We’re told how important love is, that it is special. It’s an emotion reserved for family and pets, babies and best friends. Is using this large, feelings filled word to describe a kind of pen being overdramatic? No. It is not overdramatic. You knock that right off, part of my brain who refuses to shut up.

In my late teens/early 20’s my emotions were a mess. It is a time when everything is a mess for a lot of us. Constant, choking expectations stomp on who we are or who we are trying to be. Life becomes a new kind of difficult and it can be too much. At that time, simply being seemed impossible, something that very certainly could not go on for long with all of its pointlessness. It was an ugly time for me, one I don’t talk about often, but it left me with one of my most cherished bits of life knowledge. Then, during tears and confusion and endless crap, I realized I still loved television. Loved it. Truly. Deep inside. I love storytelling and with T.V., the characters that are mirrors of us come into my home in small bursts, helping me better understand my own neurosis. I found myself still thinking, “I love ____” even though my insides felt like they were made out of sadness and my mouth had a hard time finding any positive words. Love remained a part of my internal vocabulary.

I still had the capacity to love, even in the dark, even if it wasn’t what I thought I needed. I thought I needed the love of a partner - (truthfully, at that time I believed I needed the love of a man to be worthy of any love at all. Ew.) - to feel and understand love. I thought that I could never provide that source of love myself. Learning that love lived in me even when I felt entirely empty inside, saved me. At the very least, it helped me see that merely the love inside of us is enough to keep on. If that flame is there, surely it can be stoked.

The world outside right now feels a lot like my insides felt then. Filled with despair, hopelessness; there’s a general nausea. Out there, a global pandemic still rages, the politicians shout about nothing and we all suffer their bravado. When it is hard, when that darkness and chaos seeps in, I try to find something I love. Find something, even something you think someone else might find ridiculous – and love it a little extra. Hold that baby Yoda figure in your hands so hard. Kiss it even. You love it. And that love is what makes the world go around. It is not all you need, but it is the best foundation we can ask for.

Remind yourself that you love things. If you don’t, if that feeling is gone from inside you, talk to someone. Call a helpline. If that is too much, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and think of a few things you love. It’s okay if you can’t put yourself on that list, yet. If it helps, you can have some of mine as a place to start.

I love Post-Its. I love when, just after the rain, all of the birds sound like they’re having a party. I love my embroidered green boots so much I almost never wear them. I don’t just love my sisters, I love each of their laughs individually and the brand new sound it becomes when they laugh all together. I love the sound of leaves blowing around in the trees. I love the internet, despite its flaws (they are only human flaws, after all).

I believe, when we recognize our love and how much we have, the universe sends love back. Maybe even in the form of loving ourselves.

Enjoy the end of the year, fellow humans! It is a time for reflection, cozy sweatshirts, and falling completely into all the things you love.

Eat it, hellscape.


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